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    Precious Resource From the Mountains: Viennese Spring Water

    With its lake landscapes, rivers, and countless streams, "land of water" Austria calls the tune amongst the Alpine countries. Vienna’s drinking water is even famous.

    Waterfall in the Ötztal valley
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    Austria – Land of Water

    Rain, Mountains, and Reservoirs

    The Geological Survey of Austria in Vienna has the task of researching and documenting the geology of the country. From the perspective of a geologist or hydrologist, the appeal of Austria’s water resources is first and foremost the result of a series of lucky coincidences when Earth was formed. Dr. Gerhard Schubert, head of the Hydreology and Geothermal Energy department, dedicates his research to domestic and mineral waters as well as healing and thermal springs.

    In which geological constellations was Austria particularly lucky, making it known as the "land of water"? Sufficient rain, mighty Alps, and plenty of reservoirs in the mountains for thermal, mineral and ground water would be the short answer to this question. Dr. Gerhard Schubert uses the meteorological and hydrological conditions to explain why Austria is so blessed with abundant and pure water in detail:

    • "Geology forms the vessel, in which ground water moves, is stored and released again. Austria has the Alps, where aquifers often occur that water can enter and collect in." This type of rock body with hollow spaces is ideal for directing ground water. In the foothills of the Alps – the regions of Salzburg, Upper and Lower Austria – and within the Alps, there are also deep basins that enormous reservoirs have formed in. Mineral waters have been collecting underground there for thousands of years.

      Does Austria take good care of its water resources? "It’s a constant cycle", says Dr. Schubert. "The water is constantly being produced and replenished. And water resources management ensures that the ground water level does not fall. The water that is in circulation for use is a mere fraction of what is available." A reassuring message.

    • Source of Health: The Viennese Drinking Water and Its History

      Perhaps not so famous around the world, but in Austria, is the Viennese mountain spring water. Ice cold, pure, straight from the mountains and "of excellent taste - not mineralised too little or too much", as Dr. Schubert attests. Isotope analysis shows that some of this water percolated as far back as the ice age.

      150 years ago it wasn’t actually looking good for Viennese water, with contaminated drinking water from local wells leading to disease and high mortality in the city. Eduard Suess, Viennese exploratory spirit, geologist, and politician of the 19th century, was searching for a way to supply the urban population with clean water. The springs were to lie outside of the city region, in order to reach the households without contamination.

    • Suess finally found the solution within the alpine plateaus on the Schneeberg and Rax in Lower Austria. The untouched gathering grounds of the high mountains ensured that the water was clean.

      But how could the water be led around 100 kilometres from the mountains to the city? The visionary was able to solve this problem too, with a brick canal and 30 aqueducts. The First Vienna Spring Water Main was completed in time for the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair. For the first time, spring water gushed from the Hochstrahlbrunnen fountain on today’s Schwarzenbergplatz, and from this point onwards, the Viennese enjoyed first-class, clean spring water from the mountains. Even the emperor himself, Franz Joseph I., honoured the scientist in a letter for the development of the pipeline, which the Viennese would benefit from every day. The Second Vienna Spring Water Main followed as reinforcement in 1910 and has been supplying the city with water from the equally untouched Hochschwab Mountains in Styria ever since.

    What Makes Viennese Water So Special? Five Crystal Clear Reasons

    Many people – most certainly the Viennese – speak of perhaps the best tap water in the world. And rightly so. Here are five reasons why the water that comes from the Styrian-Lower Austrian Alps and supplies the metropolis is of the highest quality:

    • Schneeberg / Lower Austria
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      1. Mountain Spring Water From Unspoilt Nature

      For more than 100 years, Vienna has been enjoying water from two headwaters in the regions of Schneeberg, Rax, Schneealpe, and Hochschwab: protected natural landscapes.

    • Schneeberg
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      2. In 36 Hours From the Mountains to the City

      The mountain spring water travels down 330 kilometres of canals to all of the metropolis’ water pipes as well as around 1,000 drinking fountains. This takes 36 hours.

    • 3. Soft and Refreshing

      With its high oxygen content, cool temperature and low in chalk, the mountain water tastes particularly refreshing.

    • Water from a brook
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      4. Ice Cold – Almost Like Fresh From the Spring

      Those who are not used to it will immediately notice the cold temperature of Viennese water. This is thanks to the partly underground canal network.

    • Gedeckter Tisch beim Heurigen
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      5. Recommended by Connoisseurs

      High levels of calcium, magnesium, and sulphate: the quality of the mountain water from the Styrian-Lower Austrian Alps is equal quality to that of still mineral water.

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    Palais Hansen Kempinski Vienna
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    Complimentary Tap Water in the Coffeehouse and Restaurants

    "A Glass of Water, Please, Waiter!"

    It wasn’t long ago that ordering tap water was frowned upon in restaurants. Frowned upon by the landlords, who were perhaps rightly concerned about their turnover. The coffeehouse tradition of a reliable supply of a glass of water is quite different: no Kleiner Brauner, Melange or Häferlkaffee is served without the obligatory glass of water on a silver tray. A delightful little service that is upheld first and foremost in Vienna – and wherever Viennese mountain spring water is particularly valued.

    In the meantime, the majority of Austrian gastronomy has made peace with the desire for tap water. Most guests realise that water cannot be your only order once seated. And many hosts consider it a courteous gesture, placing the water jug on the table without being asked. Hospitality – perhaps it was invented in Austria after all...

    Vienna’s Refreshing Fountain World

    The excellent mountain spring water does not just gush from Vienna’s water pipes, but also from around 55 monumental and memorial fountains that the city maintains. The elaborate, historical water dispensers tell stories, offer a refreshing spray, and usually also a place to take a break. Reason enough to go on one or the other fountain tour.

    •                 Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna
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      Inner Courtyard Fountain at Schönbrunn Palace

      The history of Schönbrunn Palace begins in the 14th century as a hunting ground. Maria Theresia extended the baroque part of the palace – including the inner courtyard fountain.

    •                 Belvedere Palace
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      Belvedere Palace Fountains

      Prince Eugene had received permission to use the imperial water supply for his palace and had numerous fountains installed. 

    •                 Albertinaplatz Vienna
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      Albrechtsbrunnen Fountain on Albertinaplatz

      The monumental fountain complex of white Carrara marble with "Danubius and Vindobona" (River Danube and the City of Vienna) and various side sculptures was built at the end of the 19th century.

    •                 Natural History Museum Statue of Maria Theresia
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      Tritonen- and Najadenbrunnen Fountains on Maria Theresienplatz

      World Heritage Site "Historic Centre of Vienna": a total of four fountains are placed between the Natural History Museum and the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna.

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